Interior Health has noted a rise in injuries among users of Kelowna's shared e-scooter program

IH: rise in scooter injuries

Injuries due to the operation of electric scooters in Kelowna are on the rise according to clinicians at Kelowna General Hospital.

However, precise data concerning the number of emergency room visits and injuries related to the shared e-scooter pilot program are not yet available.

That's according to a lengthy report on the controversial program requested by city council. The request by council on the nine week old pilot came after KGH chief of orthopedic surgery Dr. Steven Krywulak called the e-scooters "fracture machines" in an interview with Castanet.

A letter from Interior Health medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema accompanying the report says while there has been a "reported rise in injuries" related to e-scooters, collecting data sources to assess the impact on health services will take "several weeks," to compile.

In his report, active transportation co-ordinator Matt Worona says there are challenges in distinguishing between private and shared electric scooters, motorized scooters, non-motorized scooters, mopeds, and mobility scooters, among other vehicle types when looking at specific injuries.

Mema also stated evaluations of e-scooter programs in the U.S. and Australia show 20 to 28 injuries per 100,000 rides required medical attention. About 90 per cent of those were to the scooter riders with 70 per cent of those either fractures or head injuries.

Data also suggests the number of head injuries were double those experienced by cyclists.

Council also voiced concerns around the number of complaints around dangerous operation of e-scooters, riding on sidewalks, riders without helmets and parking them after a ride in such as way as they impact mobility on sidewalks and other routes.

Worona suggests actions are being taken to improve the service, educate riders and step up service-provider enforcement.

Some actions either ongoing or underway include free distribution of helmets, a campaign reminding all riders it is not legal to ride on sidewalks, introduction of preferred parking area stations, rider training and low speed for first time users.

Riders are also being asked to take a sober rider pledge before unlocking the scooters.

Worona adds the city is also prepared to cut off the addition of any new e-scooter permits.

"Preliminary findings after just six weeks of implementation indicate there is strong potential for the shared e-scooter program to be a cost-effective way to help take cars off the road, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and help people get around," Worona concluded.

"However, a more robust survey of riders after a longer period of time would help provide a more comprehensive picture."

To date, he says from a survey of 850 riders, an average of 40 per cent of the 77,000 trips taken to date have replaced vehicle trips.

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